We're in the middle of a second IR caused by the internet, for analogous reasons.
Also, the wealth surplus to allow men of means to experiment, the tech of working metal to decent tolerances in bulk quantity, and the mass production of paper.
The printing press was invented in 1440, the steam engine in 1712.
I believe the novel does. By the time of the story, the Romans have advanced as far as television.
More generally, historical shifts are typically a collection of necessary but insufficient causes.
1. Helen Dale, a novelist, has written a novel, Kingdom of the Wicked, of which the first book has recently been released.
2. It's set in an alternative history, during the time of Augustus.
3. Helen Dale believes an author's intepretation of her work is more meaningful, in a critical or literary sense, than a critic's. So she included an "Author's Note" in her novel, explaining the background leading to its creation.
4. The Author's Note was republished by the Cato Institute on their libertarianism.org website.
5. This essay is a reply to the Author's Note.
I've been hosting Helen's website for more than a decade. She is very, very, very smart and a damn good writer. She's also the right person for the right story.
I think you're going to hear a lot about this book in the coming year.
It will not answer your question 100% (imho there's no definitive answer for this question), but I pretty much enjoyed Carlo Cipolla's "Before the Industrial Revolution: European Society and Economy, 1000-1700" (https://www.amazon.com/Before-Industrial-Revolution-European...) where he presents Europe's pre-industrial age economy. By comparing it with what followed after ~1780 you can make yourself a pretty good idea about what might have caused the industrial revolution, or, to put it in better terms, what were the differences between England and the rest of the countries in continental Europe.
As I remember it Italy might have had a good chance of achieving it in the 1500s-early 1600s if it weren't for the disastrous Italian Wars (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Wars) and then the equally disastrous epidemics that had a huge adverse effect on Northern Italian cities in the first half of the 17th century. For example the 1630-1631 plague epidemics reduced Venice's population by 33% (46,000 deaths out of a total population of 140,000), Milan's by 47% (60,000 deaths out of a total of 130,000), Verona's by 61% (33,000 deaths out of a total of 54,000) and Cremona's by 38% (17,000 out of a total of 37,000). The nascent Northern Italian textile industry basically just collapsed after this, which freed the way for England's textile proto-industry to dominate.
* New economic and political philosophies(merchantilism, Machiavelli's works, Magna Carta)
* Theological developments(Islam, Protestantism) and the various resulting conflicts as motivators for modernity
* Access to New World flora and fauna(new crops and livestock) increasing the ability of the nascent industrial state to support large populations at a lower cost
* Refinements to math and science that built on or revised ideas from antiquity(e.g. Newtonian physics, cell theory)
* Advanced craftsmanship in certain crucial precursor technologies like lenses, gears, etc. A lot has been made of how the industrial world started operating on a fast-paced timetable, but the Romans had no pocketwatches.
Important in automation is work done by a machine, enhancing or replacing labor. Machines require energy, both for running, and for construction and processing of the material in their constituent parts. Energy was present in the English Midlands in the form of coal. By burning this coal in a glorius steam engine, of which models were improved on from the 1600s and onwards, wonders arose.
Perhaps this book on economic growth would be of interest on the importance of energy for economic growth: The Economic Growth Engine, by Ayres and Warr.
Excerpt at https://books.google.no/books/about/The_Economic_Growth_Engi...
Looking forward, Germany started industrializing some time after, and China is now reducing their coal-dependence. Now we are asking how India will industrialize without coal - underlining the importance of energy in industrialization.
2) There is no step two
European powers outsourced their slavery to the Americas, directly funding, operating and protecting it, while feigning morality about it at home.
1. economic freedom
2. printing press
3. a view of the universe that it follows rules that can be discovered and modeled in the small
4. the scientific method
5. protection of property rights, enforcement of contracts, rule of law rather than corruption
China certainly supports that premise. The before and after on their shift toward economic liberalization, is something beyond dramatic. A 50 fold expansion of their economy in a mere three decades after Deng Xiaoping began the liberalization.
It's also interesting to note that wealthier resource nations that heavily lack economic freedom such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela (formerly semi-wealthy in their case), also mostly lack modern industrialization and have routinely failed to develop their economies.
Russia is another example of this in action. Putin will continually fail to see high level economic development under his regime, as the nation almost entirely lacks economic freedom. The primary means by which Russia can expand its economy under his oppressive rule, is through natural resource prices moving higher (which accounted for most of Russia's economic gains from 2001-2013, leading up to the price of oil imploding in 2014 and sparking a terrible recession there). Russia's GDP in 1991 was $518 billion (when the price of oil was $20). It was $1.28 trillion for 2016. Inflation adjusted (much less further adjusting for the higher real oil prices today), they've made very little self-sustaining economic progress, while burning through vast energy resources.
Or consider the largest hydro dam in the world at the time, built at Dnieprostroi by Americans (designed by Hugh Cooper). The turbines were supplied by America as well. That single dam increased Soviet power production five fold. The Soviets crowed about that achievement, and they had nothing to do with it.
Steel plants, tractor plants, the list goes on and on, built by American industrialists. Then either nationalized or otherwise proclaimed to be the great product of Soviet industrialization.
They did that frequently between 1914 and the 1930s. The Soviets also never repaid the US lend-lease transfers, which would be worth several hundred billion dollars today.
To make things even worse, during the 1920s, the US and Western European powers subsidized the USSR with vast food aid, as they starved their people and exported their grain production to countries such as Germany (so while the US and others were supplying aid, they were simultaneously profiting by selling their domestic crops into other markets). During that time millions of Russians starved to death.
The USSR was not even remotely close to the industrial scale of the US in 1940. The US had economic output greater than Germany + the UK + France + the USSR by 1940.
This is a good article on it from 1988:
"How America Helped Build The Soviet Machine"
You cant have an industrial revolution without then revolutionary power of modern industry. Good concrete and slaves fanning fires to heat water isn’t that.
+ ... how frequently the enslavement of the remnants of conquered peoples (slavery wasn't so much race-based as what "naturally" happened to loser-nations/cultures) led to large numbers of those people eventually being emancipated by their owners and becoming full-fledged Roman citizens
+ ... how seemingly everyone in Rome defined themselves by their industry, by their profession. Most epitaphs on graves and tombs identified occupants by name, place of origin, some brief and sometimes humorous quip about their circumstances, where applicable mentioned their former owners pre-emancipation, and then >>> mentioned what they did for a living <<< ... people defined themselves by their work
While not germane to the larger arguments that probably will happen in these threads here, I was struck by social mobility beyond slavery, and what was core to people's identity. (I'm sure you've heard people complaining about modern society and industry with " ... people are human BEings not human DOings " -- Romans were all about the DOing).
While the Romans may not have had the conditions for a scientific/engineering/tinkering revolution to be a force multiplier in industry, they had a hard-working mindset.
EDIT: added Wikipedia link, corrections based on OP
The book the article is inspired by is an alternate history set during the reign of Augustus. It takes as its point of departure the capture of Archimedes of Syracuse -- instead of being killed, he is brought back to Rome.
Note that this is the mid-Republic period, before the dynamics of conquest and slavery completely dominated the Roman economy.
The book is written by Helen Dale, who set out to write a legal alt-history, not an economics alt-history per se. She's got the background for it: she's an award-winning novelist, studied classics at Oxford and Roman law at Edinburgh. My gut feeling is that any objection you have, she's thought about already.
Didn't they coexist in some parts of the world?
Or is it the way slaves were used?
Can you clarify to contrast Roman and US experiences?
> Didn't they coexist in some parts of the world?
The American Civil War is an example of the two coexisting in the same country
Say Marcus Licinius Crassus , Roman bajillionaire, dreams of a steam-powered engine in 73 BC, 20-ish years before his death. And instead of duking it out with Spartacus, Crassus decides to make building a steam engine his singular focus in life. In the best of cases, could he have meaningfully invested in R&D that would make meaningful progress towards building a steam engine? Was R&D even a thing in that era?
I think (but I am not a historian) that the Roman mind-set wasn't turned toward progress in the form of machines. I think that was because they didn't have real science. And I think that was because of their gods.
Oppenheimer, in his history of science, said that science couldn't have begun outside of Christianity. The Christian perspective was that, because God is there, and God is someone who uses reason, and God created the universe, therefore the universe could be understood through reason. That was the soil in which the scientific revolution started. But the Roman gods were too arbitrary and capricious to give any certainty of a reasonable universe, and so the Romans never developed real science (despite knowing many of the facts that Europeans knew by 1500).
The ancient world--not just Rome, but across the board--didn't have what you have chosen to provincially define as "real science" because not having the tools to build the tools to disprove theories tends to put a damper on things. Instead they had sciences based on what they could and did measure: geometry and astronomy are explicitly called out by Vitruvius as being necessary topics for an architect to understand.
I mean, hell. Greek and Roman thinkers (and, indeed, most Roman science was Greek) defined the scientific method as being a deterministic thing, induction via observation, in the first place.
How much of your example is survivor bias? How many roman aqueducts didn't stand to this day (and in fact failed in use)? Well, we'd only know if someone made a record of it, and the record survived, or if we found the remains in an archaelogical exploration. Did they have the science to build aqueducts (and bridges, and buildings) that survived, or did they have some experience and some rules of thumb, and some of it was done well enough to survive 2 millenia?
And you point me back to the Greeks as originators of the scientific method. A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals the claim that Aristotle originated that way of thinking. But that would be the same Aristotle who claimed that it was philosophically or logically obvious that men had more teeth than women but who, despite being married twice, never actually bothered to check. (That may be to say, induction via observation is fine, but I think the real scientific method requires experimental verification, and I don't think Aristotle was very big on that.)
> Did they have the science to build aqueducts (and bridges, and buildings) that survived, or did they have some experience and some rules of thumb, and some of it was done well enough to survive 2 millenia?
What do you think the iterative process of developing those rules of thumb is, if it isn't science? If it isn't literally how science has progressed since...well...antiquity?
And if Aristotle being wrong about the observation rankles you, then Epicurus's canonics are right there, too.
> What do you think the iterative process of developing those rules of thumb is, if it isn't science?
Well, it's technology. We observe that, if we want to build a bridge for an aqueduct, if it's higher than X feet, we have to build the bridge in layers, or else it will fall down. And we can't have more than Y layers, or it will fall down anyway. That's observation, and engineering, but it isn't science.
To me, science is: 1) Systematic observation, 2) The search for regularities in the observations, 3) Proposing an explanation for the observed regularities, and 4) Testing the proposed explanation.
Without that fourth step, it isn't science. And I don't think that "we can't build higher than Y layers" should be the end point of "proposing an explanation".
> And if Aristotle being wrong about the observation rankles you...
What rankles me isn't that Aristotle was wrong. It's that he never made the observation. He stated something that seemed obviously right (to him), but he never checked it in any way, even though he had the means to do so in his own house. (And no, I don't think Epicurus is the answer to what Aristotle did wrong.)